PROVO — BYU legend Danny Ainge owned the school’s all-time scoring record for 30 years — until Jimmer Fredette shattered it in 2011.
Fredette finished his memorable career with 2,599 points, and many figured it would be another 30 years — at least — before anybody supplanted Fredette.
But as it turns out, it’s a mark that should be broken in the next couple of weeks by Fredette's former teammate, Tyler Haws.
It's been only four years since Fredette accomplished the feat.
“It’s a little surprising,” the former BYU star told the Deseret News in a recent phone interview. “When Tyler came back off his mission and had an exceptional year as a sophomore, I knew that he had a chance to break it. I knew he’d only get better. At that point, I knew my record was in trouble.”
For the record, Fredette, now a guard with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, fully endorses Haws to become the Cougars’ next all-time scoring leader.
Before the season Fredette had a conversation with Haws.
“I told him, ‘I hope you have a great year, I hope things go well, and if my scoring record does go down to someone, I would love for it to go down to you,’” said Fredette, whose team hosts the Utah Jazz Monday. “He’s such a good kid, he’s a great role model, and represents the school so well and he’s a great player. I hope he breaks it and I’m very happy for him. I’ve been watching him score point after point after point. It’s great for him, and it’s great for the program to be able to have a guy score the ball so well and give the school some notoriety.”
With five regular-season games remaining, Haws currently has 2,530 points, just 69 behind Fredette. In last weekend’s loss at Pepperdine, Haws reached the 2,500-point plateau. It took Haws 129 games to do it, while it took Fredette 136 games to score 2,500.
Fredette eclipsed Ainge in dramatic fashion — in the Mountain West Conference tournament semifinals in Las Vegas against New Mexico, which had handed BYU two of its three regular-season losses in 2011.
With 4:25 left in the game, Fredette hit a jumper in the lane to surpass Ainge’s career total of 2,467. That basket also gave him 49 points for the game. Fredette was fouled on the play and on the subsequent free throw, he scored 50 points — a BYU-single game scoring record. Fredette ended up with 52 points, as he scored 22 field goals, including seven 3-pointers.
Fredette captured two huge milestones in one unforgettable night.
Ainge was supportive of him during his time at BYU. “He said that was time for the record to be broken," Fredette said. "He had it for a long time."
The scoring mark is something Fredette has treasured.
“It’s representative of me and my time at BYU,” Fredette said. “Danny Ainge had it for a really long time and he’s probably the best player ever to play at BYU and I was able to come along and at least have a good career. Our teams when I was there were able to do some good things and that’s what’s most important. It was awesome to have the record for a while, but records are meant to be broken. I knew at some point it would happen. Hopefully, Tyler will get there soon.”
Fredette and Haws were teammates in 2009-10, when Fredette was a junior and Haws was a freshman. Haws averaged a modest 11.3 points that season, then left to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Philippines.
To Fredette, the fact Haws took years away from basketball makes his scoring achievement even more impressive.
“It’s amazing to me. He was very blessed for going on his mission and doing what the Lord wanted him to do,” Fredette said. “It’s been awesome to see him come back and be able to play so well right away after his mission. The biggest roadblock for coming off a mission is trying to get back into game shape. He did that really quickly. He had a great year right from the get-go. He has that confidence. It was amazing to see.”
When they were teammates, Fredette knew about Haws' scoring potential.
“He came out of high school as a big-time scorer, one of the best players to come out of Utah," Fredette said. "The kid just works so hard. He works on his game every single day. Every day in the offseason he’s getting shots up, going as hard as he can. One thing that he does really well is, when he works out, he always goes full-speed, like he’s in a game. That helps him in games. It’s something I try to do as well.”
While both players are relentless scorers, Fredette and Haws score in different ways.
“He’s more of a wing player. I was a point guard and I had the ball a lot more,” Fredette said. “I was bringing it up the floor, initiating offense. I used a lot of ball screens to get open to shoot. Tyler is more of a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s really good in the post. He’s a great dribble, pull-up guy.”
On his way to the scoring record, Fredette played for a BYU team ranked in the top 10. He climbed up the school scoring charts amid intense national attention known as “Jimmermania” thanks to his acrobatic shots and long-range 3-pointers. He was the talk of the country and his highlights were ubiquitous on ESPN. As a senior, Fredette scored 1,068 points, and averaged 28.9 points per game.
Five of the top eight single-game scoring performances in BYU history belong to Fredette, including a 49-point effort at Arizona and a 47-point outing at Utah.
Haws’ ascent to the top of the scoring list has been quieter and less glamorous. He’s been Mr. Consistency the past three seasons, averaging between 21 and 23 points per game. Haws holds the school record for most 20-point games with 69. Currently, he has recorded 10 consecutive games with at least 20 points.
Haws’ career-high, 48 points, came last year in a triple-overtime loss at Portland. He scored 42 as a sophomore against Virginia Tech. He also has 13 30-point contests.
“He’s got a great mid-range game,” Fredette said. “He shoots free throws extremely well and he’s shooting well from the 3-point line. He’s a consistent player.”
Haws is poised to break Fredette's scoring record, but can he follow in Fredette's footsteps to the NBA?
“He has that potential, for sure,” Fredette said. “The NBA’s always looking for guys that can shoot the basketball and that’s something that Tyler can do. He can catch-and-shoot. He’s a hard-worker and a tough kid. The NBA is always looking for tough kids who aren’t afraid of the moment or the guy they’re playing against. You’ve got to be prepared mentally to do that, and he can definitely do that.”
BYU’S POINT MEN
Tyler Haws is on the brink of breaking Jimmer Fredette’s all-time scoring record of 2,599 points at BYU. Here’s a look at the ways Fredette, Haws and the third-leading scorer, Danny Ainge, accumulated their points.